In the NHL, $2.8 million buys you a 24-year-old forward that can produce 81 points in 162 career games, can be versatile enough to play on any line, on both wings, and can play responsible defense.
But if Danton Heinen can be more than that for the Bruins now he’s signed a two-year contract extension, avoiding the arbitration hearing the played filed for earlier this week, he could be a proverbial bargain.
Heinen foresees an increase in his offense, which topped out at 47 points in 77 games as a rookie two years ago before he had 34 points in the same number of games last season. But he’s not going to sacrifice his 200-foot game to add counting stats to his line.
“I think first of all, there’s so many details that go into the game, go into each game and stuff like that, so I think since I’ve been here the staff has been kind of helping me work on those details. And I’m going to continue to work on them because I think if you’re good at the little details good things happen, and you’re put in better spots on the ice,” Heinen said during a conference call Thursday, two days after he signed his contract extension. “So, I’m going to continue to work on those details and then when you get chances, grade-A looks, [finish them>. That’s the kind of player I see myself being.
“Coming into the league, I want to be an offensive guy, I want to create more, and I’m going to keep on working at doing that, trying to produce more for the team.”
Twenty-seven of Heinen’s NHL points have been goals. A better shot will increase his odds at scoring more of them.
“I mean you always definitely want to score more goals. There’s nothing better than scoring, but I think, yeah, I’ve always worked on my shot in the summertime and I continue to work on it, but I think, yeah, that’s definitely something I’ll emphasize, and I’m going to continue to work on,” he said. “I think I also need to kind of get in a mindset where I’m shooting more and am more confident in my shot because, you know, different opportunities I might pass up or whatever. I believe in my shot, and I believe I can score, so yeah, I think it’s just continuing believing in that and working on it.”
Heinen had just eight points (two goals, six assists) in 24 games during the Bruins’ run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. But no one can deny that his line with Charlie Coyle at center and the recently departed Marcus Johansson on left wing was the Bruins’ most consistent line throughout the postseason.
Assuming he's not traded as the salary-cap sacrifice to make room for unsigned RFAs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, Heinen may have to play a bigger role on Boston’s third line, now that Johansson has gone to Buffalo, or he could fill the right-wing slot on one of Boston’s top two lines. During last season he filled in well when David Pastrnak was injured on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s line, skating 197:31 of 5-on-5 ice time with them while that line outscored the opposition 11-4.
This is the NHL in 2019, so no third-year player is going to take to a public forum and make headlines by demanding he play on a particular line. But let’s face it, every player that wears a Bruins sweater yearns to play with the Marchand-Bergeron combination, and in his humblest of terms Heinen expressed his wish to get his chance to fill that slot again in 2019-20.
“I think playing with those guys is, I mean, it’s an honor for sure. It feels good to be a guy they tried up there and [they gave> the opportunity to me, and I didn’t take it lightly at all,” Heinen said. “But I think, yeah, in the same point it’s whatever’s best for the team, again, but, yeah, if that’s where they need me, then that’s where I’ll play.”
Regardless of what line he’s on, the Bruins are going to need a more offensive-minded Heinen. Sounds like he’s gotten that memo.
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